Assembling in the Delamere Station Cafe, everyone was complaining about how cold it was: certainly chilly after recent days, and overcast. I had a route prepared to the Egerton Arms at Chelford, and a group of seven were prepared to ride: Jim, Dave H, Macca, Bob, George, John B and myself.
I planned a standard route out to Acton Bridge, but Jim suggested we ride along the banks of the River Weaver instead. This was much more pleasant and the surface dry. We passed along without being troubled, as previously, by the grazing horses and passed under Acton Bridge to avoid the traffic. From there we headed to Comberbach and took a big loop around Great Budworth before crossing the A556 at The Smoker. We passed through Lower Peover and Ollerton, and joined the A537 for the final kilometre to the pub.
The Egerton Arms was more than usually busy with two large parties, but we were squeezed onto a couple of tables. The volume of customers was obviously testing the kitchen as we waited a long time to get our food. However, when it eventually arrived it was of very good quality and with beers to match.
Chelford has a significant agricultural history, having been home for over 100 years to a large livestock market, only closed at the end of last month. We witnessed more modern farming practice as we left the pub, with 5 massive tractors and associated implements churning up a smallish field opposite. We soon had plenty of time to speculate on what they were doing (we came to no conclusion) as Jim’s saddle became loose. Repeated efforts to fix it onto the seatpost failed and we concluded that something had snapped off. Short of riding all the way back without a saddle, Jim had only one option: to phone his emergency breakdown service and retire to the pub. We later heard that Jim bravely sustained himself with coffee and cheesecake until Mrs Jim was able to effect a rescue.
The return route took us through Goostrey and Lach Dennis for a welcome stop at Riverside Farm Café just before Davenham. Coffee and cakes were consumed, except for Macca who claimed that on such a cold day, he needed an ice cream.
The rest of the ride should have been straightforward, but after we passed the crossroads in Davenham we lost Dave and Macca. I cycled back to find them, but there was no sign and we couldn’t reach them by phone. Knowing they knew the way back we continued. I took a new route for me through Hartford village into the back of Sandiway and Cuddington, and then past the Forest View Inn to Norley and so back to our start.
We had covered 52 miles on a cool, dry and eventful ride - Jim had been rescued and Dave and Macca were not too far behind us, though Macca did suffer a blowout from a pothole on the very bad westbound surface of Ashton Road - still a good ride.